This post is not two months early. It’s two weeks late. Around here, Christmas cookies and candy and multiple varieties of Stollen have been available in grocery stores since the last week of September, and the local hypermarket has a whole aisle devoted to Christmas decorations. There is no Thanksgiving holiday in Germany. Halloween is still a bad excuse for teenagers to dress up and go to parties. While Germans learned to show the flag during the World Cup this summer for the first time in 60 years, showing the flag when the government tells you to show it is still considered in poor taste, so the national holiday on Tuesday was very, very quiet. With no major holidays before First Advent, there is nothing to stop German stores and German consumers from ramping up for Christmas three months ahead of time, just as soon as the back-to-school sales are done. And I love it.
Back in the US, I’d be railing about consumerism and cynical exploitation of religious holidays for profit. But in another country, it’s easier for me to suspend my own cynicism and accept local conditions for what they are. When in Germany, do as the Germans do–and the Germans practically invented Christmas as we know it. The civic celebration of Christmas gets spread over the whole month of December, with Christmas markets occupying any self-respecting town square and public musical performances scheduled any time you can fit one in. The holiday itself gets three days on the calendars, from the 24th to the 26th, but you really have to abandon all hope of getting any kind of work done until after Epiphany. It takes a long time to gear up for a celebration on that scale, so I’m starting today, along with the rest of the country. I’m off to listen to my favorite Christmas music, because the season to be jolly is right now, fa-la-la, la-la-la, la la la.